The Associated Press uncritically reported that Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was excluded from the Iowa presidential forum because, according to one of the groups sponsoring the event, Paul "didn't meet the criteria the groups drew up," including "having an established exploratory committee and garnering at least 1 percent in a national poll." The AP did not mention that Paul established his presidential exploratory committee months before invitations for the forum were sent and was polling at 1 percent in at least one national poll at that time.
A June 28 Associated Press article reported that Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (TX) was excluded from a June 30 forum for presidential candidates in Iowa, co-sponsored by the Iowa Christian Alliance and Iowans for Tax Relief, because he "didn't meet the criteria the groups" sponsoring the event "drew up last winter." The article added that some of the criteria Paul "didn't meet" in March when the invitations were sent, according to Ed Failor Jr., executive vice president of Iowans for Tax Relief, included "having an established exploratory committee and garnering at least 1 percent in a national poll." But the article did not note that Paul did have an established exploratory committee in January and was polling at 1 percent in at least one national poll at that time. By March, when the invitations were apparently sent, Paul had officially announced his candidacy and was polling in at least one other national poll at 2 percent.
Indeed, as the AP reported on January 11, "Paul filed papers in Texas to create a presidential exploratory committee that will allow him to raise money." Around that time, Paul was polling at 1 percent in at least one national poll, a January 19-21 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, which would appear to fulfill the "criteria" set by the Iowa forum's sponsors, and he was polling at 1 percent in a March 30-April 1 Strategic Vision poll of likely Iowa caucus participants. By March 12, Paul had formally announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination, according to a press release issued by his campaign. Paul's announcement came during an appearance on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.
According to a June 22 article in The Daily Iowan, the student newspaper of the University of Iowa, "Of the 10 hopefuls who participated in the first three Republican debates, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is the only candidate who was not invited to attend the event." The Des Moines Register reported that Republican candidates Jon Cox and Mark Klein, who have not participated in any of the national Republican debates, also were not invited.
Not only did Paul already have an exploratory committee formed by March, he was also polling as high as 2 percent in national polls at that time. For instance, a March 9-11 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, showed Paul polling at 2 percent among "registered Republicans." Paul was polling ahead of Rep. Tom Tancredo (CO), former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA), all of whom, according to the June 28 AP article, are included in the Iowa forum's "line-up of ... speakers." Tancredo and Thompson polled at 1 percent and Hunter polled at less than 1 percent at the time. The CNN poll's margin of error was +/- 4.9 percent. A March 23-25 USA Today/Gallup poll found that 1 percent of "Republicans and Republican leaners" would support Paul and Tancredo for the Republican presidential nomination at the time, while 2 percent favored Thompson; less than 1 percent chose Hunter.
Additionally, the AP article also claimed that Paul "has struggled to top 1 percent in national polls." However, in several more recent national surveys, as well as in at least one Iowa state poll, Paul is polling at 2 percent. In a June 22-24 CNN/Opinion Dynamics poll, Paul garnered 2 percent support from "Republicans or Independents who lean Republican," again polling higher than Tancredo, Thompson, and Hunter. Similarly, a June 11-14 USA Today/Gallup poll found that 2 percent of "Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican Party" chose Paul as the candidate they "would be most likely to support for the Republican nomination for President in the year 2008."
As the AP reported January 11, Paul "was one of a handful of Republicans to vote in 2002 against giving President Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq, contending that only Congress had the power to declare war." Paul is the only Republican presidential candidate to have voted against the war and in Republican debates has repeatedly voiced his support for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
From the June 28 Associated Press article:
Congressman Ron Paul will add party crashing to his presidential campaign tactics this weekend.
The Texas Republican, who has struggled to top 1 percent in national polls, wasn't invited to a forum of presidential candidates Saturday in Des Moines. The gathering is sponsored by the Iowa Christian Alliance and the watchdog group Iowans for Tax Relief.
Instead of grumbling, Paul's campaign decided to hold its own party in the same hall as the forum. They're calling it a celebration of life and liberty.
Still, campaign spokesman Jesse Benton said it has been frustrating to be excluded, especially since Paul has consistently opposed abortion and is known nationally for his advocacy of lowering taxes.
"To try to exclude Ron, especially when he is so good on these issues that both of these groups purport to support ... it's just a little head-scratching," Benton said.
The line-up of forum speakers includes Tommy Thompson, [former Arkansas Gov.] Mike Huckabee, [Sen.] Sam Brownback [KS], [former Massachusetts Gov.] Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter.
Ed Failor Jr., executive vice president of Iowans for Tax Relief, said some candidates weren't invited in order to keep the event from stretching on too long.
"You sort of draw a line because we're not going to have a 17-hour event," he said.
Paul didn't meet the criteria the groups drew up last winter, which Failor said included having an established exploratory committee and garnering at least 1 percent in a national poll. The groups sent out invitations in March to all "credible" candidates of both parties; all the Democrats declined to attend.
Of Paul renting space right next door, Failor said "It's a free country. He can do what he likes."